All posts by Judith Greenaway

Judith is a Sydney theatre worker who was ‘born in a trunk’. With a lifelong passion for all performing arts, she has turned her hand to many jobs in film, TV and live theatre. Ranging from earning pocket money for trimming the back legs off tables, so they sat flat on raked stages to owning her own touring theatre company. A lighting designer by trade, Judith experiences performances with a technical eye and an understanding of the jobbing actor and the theatrical bedrock which supports them.

5TH QUEER SCREEN FILM FEST 19 – 24 SEPTEMBER 2017

The QUEER SCREEN FILM FESTIVAL lineup has been announced and it will feature 20 films from four continents, including 16 Australian premieres, puts the diversity of LGBTIQ experience and Queer strength on screen in Sydney and the Blue Mountains.

There are screenings at the Mt Vic Flicks, Event Cinemas and thanks to a partnership with City of Sydney, Queer Screen Film Fest will also present three free film events for the whole community.

There is an outdoor family screening of Moana at Sydney Park, a seniors (and friends) viewing of the moving documentary The Lavender Scare, complete with afternoon tea. In addition there is a youth event featuring Behind The Curtain: Todrick Hall, a high energy documentary following the titular YouTube and Rupaul’s Drag Race sensation.

“Being able to give back and reach out to the community is something Queer Screen views as vitally important, and through our strong relationship with City of Sydney we are again able to provide free entertainment that focuses on three pillars of the LGBTIQ community: families, seniors and youth” says Festival Director, Lisa Rose. Continue reading 5TH QUEER SCREEN FILM FEST 19 – 24 SEPTEMBER 2017

SUDS GOES A WANDERING WITH ‘IN TWO CIRCLES’

So their ceiling fell in. But that is not going to stop the oldest theatre company in Australia from getting a show on! Would a destroyed venue have stopped alumni like Kip or Kit or, wayback, Clive and Germaine? Not likely.

Sydney University Dramatic Society (SUDS), has been creating performance for nearly 130 years. So, during their displacement from the Cellar Theatre, they have taken root in the Common Room plus they have branched out into the wilds of Annandale. IN TWO CIRCLES is SUDS’ immersive theatre experience and it begins at the Annandale pub.

We meet Prof Gerald who is obviously under pressure and who has a theory about a time and place shift. In his halting and nervous way he explains that there has been a series of disappeared persons over 100 years in the Herald obituary sections. The latest is someone he knows.

Esse appears to be one of the disappeared. Gerald has sent a call to arms on Reddit and here we are. The ten of us will join with his colleague Michael to make a dozen warriors. We bond as we travel though lanes and backstreets and later when I find myself confronted with a scary run-in with ‘The Patron’ I can grab a young man’s shirt and request his assistance. Enjoyed that may be a bit too much. Moving on.

Through the portal, armed with a recent picture of Esse we go. We enter … The Vale!!! (It’s more ‘Welcome to Night Vale’ than Littlefinger territory.)

Immersive theatre is all the rage, from escape rooms to takeovers of historic buildings. And each, the good ones anyway, has a distinct story, genre, cast of characters and raison d’etre. IN TWO CIRCLES is detailed, well created, immaculately conceptualised and there must be an English Major there somewhere because it is beautifully plotted and, in a few places, scripted. Not to mention the terrific improvisational talent of the performers.

The space has detail enough to keep participants wandering and questing without either real world intrusion or any claustrophobia. The intent of the props and sets are conducive to detective work, whether you are a brooding thinker looking for signs or an action seeker searching for events.

The fairly modern costuming does the trick to support the artist’s character but the real delight is in the makeup. Apart from highly visible audience members, such as an elder citizen with grey hair and a notebook, it would be hard to recognise those from whom information might be elicited. That’s where the makeup empowers a participant. It clues one in to the internal struggle and therefore what can be believed. It’s really clever!

Obviously an audience requires some kind of herding toward a conclusion, a solution, an experiential climax. In this production, some simple, effective lighting and audio goes a long way toward that but shepherding inevitably falls to the cast. The immersion is about 50 minutes and not one of those actors dropped character or showed any sign of fatigue, even after a 4 show day. Each character has some kind of arc, can answer backstory questions and yet travel the mystery forward.

There is something for everyone in IN TWO CIRCLES. SUDS have taken their adverse architectural situation by the orbs and held a contorted mirror up to an alternate reality. Great concept, great fun it continues until 12th August.

BROOKE ROBINSON’S ‘TELESCOPE’ @ THE OLD FITZ

TELESCOPE is bent over laughing entertainment. Part of Red Line Productions THE NEW FITZ, a season of ten Australian writers, this show is wonderfully, obliquely … silly. In fact, histrionic, hilarious, high spirited, it is an exercise in advanced silliness. With a whole heap of my viewing-year-so-far bests!

Beginning with best use of an antennae to open a show. Daniel is on the lookout for aliens when we meet him as we enter the theatre. He and his transistor and his aerial are perched on a table centre stage. There is great deal of leaping and arm raising and getting of mixed signals. (Terrific audio cues btw) until his parents arrive.

Mum and Dad get my best in show for most disengaged parents! Only slightly interested in anyone else’s agenda, this absurdly dysfunctional family is completed by the arrival of Lenny. An expert non-listener, she is driven to try and save the family home from the Government’s greedy claws as it buys up the Sydney suburb. Their little home and those around it are the perfect place for a radio telescope and there are big ass bucks to made by selling up and heading out. Continue reading BROOKE ROBINSON’S ‘TELESCOPE’ @ THE OLD FITZ

JANE BODIE’S ‘FOURPLAY’ @ THE BLOOD MOON THEATRE

There really are not enough small spaces around Sydney where emerging theatre companies can get a show up with their own resources and backing. Blood Moon Theatre is one that really supports independent theatre by its price structure and having some lighting and sound infrastructure. Phable Productions/ Marcia Lemm chose this theatre for their short season of FOURPLAY (2000) by Australian playwright Jane Bodie.

The opening of FOURPLAY, as written, sees the four characters listing the names of past lovers and relationships before the word ‘you’. This production wisely shortened that to the one word for each of the characters before moving on. We meet Alice (Marcia Lemm) and Tom (Jack Berry) rehearsing lines for a different play. He is an actor and she is an ex-actress, now a care-worker. They are evidently in a relationship but appear combative. Next we see Tom rehearsing with Natasha (Chantelle Von Appen) and there appears to be a different kind of tension. As the issues in Tom and Alice’s relationship worsen, Alice meets Jack (Evan Piefke). Jack is also a care-worker for the same client and their paths cross at the beginning and end of shifts. Jack appears very odd and Alice takes some time to choose to engage with him.

There are some very interesting notes in the Bodie’s script about which characters will engage with whom. About focus and perspective and eye contact and choices about naturalism in production with scope for non-naturalistic interpretations. This production chose a naturalistic physical setting with the theatre in an usual configuration. Sofa and tables on the floor as well as using the small stage, with the use of practical lamps and an overhead bulb to indicate place. It must have cost them a lot of seats but served the production well. Continue reading JANE BODIE’S ‘FOURPLAY’ @ THE BLOOD MOON THEATRE

THEATRE ON CHESTER PRESENTS ‘THE THIRTY NINE STEPS’

THE 39 STEPS at the Theatre on Chester, Epping is a crackerjack production with a cracking good performance at its centre. It’s hilarious, cleverly conceived, fast paced and, I do believe, the most fun I have ever had in the suburbs on a Friday night.

Richard Hannay is jaded, filled with ennui and world weary after his travels. With a wink to the audience, he decides to take in a night at the theatre … it’s an “antidote to boredom” right? He will meet a mysterious veiled woman and being bored will no longer be his problem as he finds himself accused of her murder. He is suddenly on a train to the Scottish Highlands following the clues which the aforementioned, now deceased Annabella Schmidt has intimated!

THE 39 STEPS is an Olivier, Drama Desk and Tony award winner. It is a rollicking show, which takes the Hitchcock classic film and puts it on stage with only four cast members. Owing a great deal to BULLSHOT CRUMMOND, the riotous production is alive with Hitchcockian allusions, some wonderful sight gags and jokes ranging from groaners to rapid fire puns. Continue reading THEATRE ON CHESTER PRESENTS ‘THE THIRTY NINE STEPS’

DRY LAND @ KINGS CROSS THEATRE

Production photos by Marnya Rothe.

There has been and after Opening Night tonight, there will continue to be , a great deal of public and media discussion about the violence of one scene of Ruby Rae Spiegel’s DRY LAND playing at Kings Cross Theatre. I am not the person who will add much to the specifics of that because, frankly, I didn’t watch. I cowered away from it, tried not to listen and just waited for it to end. And that is the very reason why artistic debate about a topic such as medication abortion requires skillful and respectful hands. Realism is vital. This story is not clinical it must not be whitewashed or sterilised.

Outhouse Theatre Company and Mad March Hare Theatre Company are those hands.

DRY LAND introduces us to Ester and Amy. Amy is forceful and solid. And pregnant. Ester greatly hero worships her and seems slightly overawed by being asked to be the co-conspirator in her attempts to induce a miscarriage … by being punched in the stomach. The girls are swimmers. The place is the white tiled dressing sheds.

Amy’s best friend is actually Reba and Amy is not above using vague Reba allusions in manipulating Ester’s participation. Ester’s evident guilessness belies a darkness that will show itself to a stranger, Victor when their parents arrange for her to stay at his dorm. She is at his college for a disenfranchising tryout for a swim scholarship. Amy seems little interested in a real friendship with Ester however the physical intervention unsuccessful, there must be collusion to purchase the medications.

This is a polished, professional production that wears its heart on its sleeve. Sarah Rae Anne Meacham gives us an Ester who grows and changes throughout the play as she wrestles with demons that have tortured her in the past. It’s a subtle performance with undercurrents that smack head on into the undertow of Patricia Pemberton’s Amy. Dominant, changeable and until the end unknowable, Pemberton pulls off the difficult trick of appearing one thing while being described as another. And she does this without conflict or loss of believability.

The two women have a rapport that elevates the audience’s involvement in their circumstances. It is also important to mention that their control over the challenging physicality of the abortion scene is vital for the credibility of the play’s intention.

They have fine support in Charles Upton who is really terrific as Victor, a young man out of his depth with college life and family complications. And he is so funny. That’s what is so enriching about Ruby Rae Spiegel’s script; it has such elevating, comic, character based moments despite the gravity of its themes. Michelle Ny as Reba personifies one of those themes. She is travelling through adolescence with a flighty, gossipy, self-obsession that rings wonderfully true. One can see why Amy kept Reba out of her plans.

Also in fine support are the production and creative crew. The set ( Isabel Hudson) is simple, white tiles and two long dark wood benches. But in those scene changes when the lights (Liam O’Keefe) morph from glaring fluorescent to underwater aquas and bluey-greens and the underwater echo and spill of the audio track ( Ben Pierpoint) blurs the senses … then … those benches look like the black line on the bottom of a pool. The senses are water- dulled and the audience has time to think and breathe before the scene which will take our breath from us.

It is very important that you take the trigger warnings in all of the publicity about this show seriously. It is graphic, inescapable. I thought I would be fine. A life in the theatre has inured me to stage blood, I recently worked on the Sydney season of 1984 without incident. But I couldn’t watch and knew beforehand that would probably be so. What I didn’t know is that the scene afterwards, where the bloody mess is cleaned with custodial indifference would set me off. Trouble controlling my nausea then for reasons that require investigation.

Without irony I would suggest that DRY LAND is about choice and this Australian premiere production is an artistic contributor to the debate about medicinal abortion because it is not sterile, logical or singly experienced. Surely, if men and women of childbearing age are to speak of such things then understanding the visceral, bloody, realities can only inform choices.

DRY LAND plays at the Kings Cross Theatre until 19 August.

 

BONDI FEAST : THE CHOO CHOO TROUPE PRESENTS LOST LOST CABARET @ THE BONDI PAV

The Lost Lost Cabaret

The Choo Choo Troupe is obviously a force for good.  They describe themselves on their website as “ a collective of Sydney & Melbourne based performers who are tied together by an innate desire to act like idiots.”  And the reality is, you can’t be an idiot on your own… that’s just weird.  There is safety in numbers.

THE LOST LOST CABARET was the final event of the BONDI FEAST and it is apparently the little sister to London’s The Lost Cabaret, and misguided brother to Melbourne’s The Lost Lost Lost Cabaret.  According to their blurb ….  Throughout 2016, The Lost Lost Cabaret was a regular show at Glebe’s now defunct Mr. Falcon’s.  And now it has returned!  For one night only!  At Bondi Feast!  

Last night the six artists who were performing were squeezed into the Mini Theatre with its miniscule stage and very few seats..  It’s a chance to see these performers up close and personal  and the use of small venues is just one of the attractions of BONDI FEAST programming.  You also get to put Sold Out your next gig.  On this occasion, you can put Sold Out REaaaaly REaaaaly Early!

One of the other advantages is that you have a supportive space to try out your material, since another reality is that you simply don’t know if your gear works until you stand up.  “I must have you warmed up by now,” says one artist when a clap-desirous pun just lies there.  There was a fair amount of trying out and there were some lie-there gags.  All terrific learning material for sure in a Choo Choo safe environment.

The 2 MCs for the evening, Bobbie and Wanda (Debbie Zukerman and Alicia Gonzalez) arrived with some physical comedy which was supported by preparation and personality.  But the problems that all would have with the intimacy of the venue, only having the one gig with little preparation time in the space, and the tyranny of props and costumes that won’t behave,  also arrived with these characters.  They had fun mining the comic possibilities of that well-trod stand-up fare: the embarrassment of incompetence.

They were ably supported by Steve on the Keys!  His work was top notch, he was engaged, responsive, creative and supportive. The other 3 members of last night’s troupe were an elderly citizen who reads faxed hands … probably to supplement her pension, a Lorca inspired sad sack in a really stunning  costume and a doctor armed with a stethoscope to read what is in random audience members heads and play it out imaginatively on set.  

There was a bit where members of the public were let loose with surgical tongs, some gross-out stuff, some female-centric gags, even a lesbian sub-plot!  The audience laughed and volunteered and congratulated them afterwards and the Choo Choo Troupe rose again to inspire new idiots in the nicest possible way.    

 

BONDI FEAST : CLARA CUPCAKES : THE WORST @ THE LITTLE THEATRE, BONDI PAVILION

CLARA CUPCAKES: THE WORST is a wonderful production. When we first meet our player/character, we do wonder though, will the wonder she sees around her keep us engaged for the length of our time together. Wonder on, till truth make all things plain. Yep, this is a Shakespearean clown snuggled away in a tiny theatre at the tail end of the Bondi Feast.

Clara Cupcakes invented a game in 2001. The year of Enron and the ipod. A bad game. THE WORST. This Dire Straits-ish, blocky, animated quest was essentially unplayable. Until now.

On the small stage is an octopus. She is purple and she is excitable. She is the inheritor of Puck and Bottom and a bit of Dogberry with the distinct whiff of Gypsy Rose Lee and Ethel Merman. Not to mention Siri beatboxing… just ask her … “I could do this all day!” And she is our hero. She will play the game and interact with the graphics in an attempt to re-enter the undersea castle from which she has been rudely ejected like the last cartridge of a Nintendo 64. Continue reading BONDI FEAST : CLARA CUPCAKES : THE WORST @ THE LITTLE THEATRE, BONDI PAVILION

BONDI FEAST : the ethics of paediatric haircut for long hair

It was a bit hairy there for a few minutes. I thought a scuffle was going to break out for sure. Love a tough audience but I reckon there was going to be some biffo after the show. Ires were raised and conciliation was not on the agenda when such a divisive topic was let off the chain at the Bondi Feast.

As for me, I’m a barber’s daughter from the dark days when kids did what their parents wanted, where infant autonomy did not exist and no-one had the temerity to juxtapose consent and abuse. So I am seriously torn.

Well … not seriously. None of this is serious. It’s a fun, new Australian work called the ethics of paediatric haircut for long hair. Seriously!

The debate occurs between a scholarly, academic, clinically precise doctor in surgical scrubs and a scrubber hairdresser who specialises in cutting kids hair. The audience launches in and the debate is hijacked by the choir of some medical product from ProsiPharm, trying to further their own agenda.

The show is the brainchild of Isobel Yeap (the doc) and Antoinette Barbouttis and Yeap plays the doctor giving the lecture with Elysia Boyd as Paloma Orange, her antagonist. I especially liked the Doctor character who is, initially, logical and precise and authoritative. As the show progresses her warmth and passion engage the audience and she has a lovely little monologue which really drea me in.

The Paloma Orange character however was abrasive, vicious, snide, simplistic, sneering and arrogant – well delivered.

This was a short, wry, irony- heavy morsel. Nothing serious for sure … despite the interjections of some elements of the audience. Tasty!

the ethics of paediatric haircut for long hair plays again at the Bondi Pavilion Friday at 9:30pm.

 

BONDI FEAST : CONFIDENTIAL MEMO RE EXCLUSION ZONE : A WALKING TOUR

CONFIDENTIAL MEMO

To: Editor, Sydney Arts Guide

From : Judith Greenaway

RE: Exclusion Zone: A Walking Tour

Hi David,

Just a quick, late night note about that little mission you sent me on to see Exclusion Zone: A Walking Tour at the Bondi Feast.

I’m sorry I won’t be able to send anything through about the show. We had to sign a damned Non-Disclosure Agreement. Along with a Liability Waiver I might add.

But, just between us, I reckon you should really check it out. The guy, Caleb Lewis, I think it is, is an absolute nutter. It’s just obvious from the time he tells you that Euclidian mathematics and Newtonian physics don’t apply where he’s taking us. Yep, truly, he says that.

And he is so freaking believable I just couldn’t help but get sucked in. Seriously … the man has all these statistics and pictures and diagrams and shit like that. It wouldn’t surprise me if there’s something in it. Did I just say that out loud … LOL. Pack your tin-foil hat is all I’m sayin.

Anyway, it’s so much weird stuff so well delivered… you really have to sift through it. Soooo many dates and numbers. 1984 keeps popping up and 42 and 1359. You would probably love that but I was just worried about some of the people he was talking about … freaky … not to mention poor old Ricochet the cat.

You really have to anchor yourself in the here and now and find a way to be alert despite the quite immersive, seductive, logically illogical, ‘alternative fact’ nature of it all. That Caleb guy is a real storyteller and you get drawn into this bloody web of um ..sort of … I dunno. You know!!

Especially in some of those back streets where the pavement needs work . You could fall into some of those cracks and disappear for ever. Which reminds me. Don’t take Aunt Maude with you. There is a lot of walking and it’s fast and that guy has really long legs. Remember that time she wandered off, got lost and we had to put up signs on the telephone poles … we don’t want that again do we?

Anyway David, I’m off to bed. Exclusion Zone: A Walking Tour is happening again on Friday and Saturday at 6:45, heaven only knows why they let this crackpot loose. But go and have a look and let me know what you think.

Judith

Bluebeard; or, the Marriage Mistakes of a Nameless Bride @ Bondi Pav

BLUEBEARD; OR, THE MARRIAGE MISTAKES OF A NAMELESS BRIDE is playing as part of the Bondi Feast. The Feast, which is held at the Bondi Pavilion, has numerous venues and I have been to pretty much all of them these past 2 weeks. Until tonight. Curiosity drew me.

This production takes place in the male change room of the venerable 1920s building. The audience sit on the benches with the drama happening in front of them and around them and hidden in the next cubicle. Part radio play, part immersion, part spectator experience: the show begins with a ritual.

The solitude of a shower. Then the donning of clothes and of the self which is shown to the world. The actors look at us as if in a mirror and check that the prsona is all tidy, correct and at its best before taking it away from the intimacy of dressing.

Melissa Hume and Curly Fernandez are the actors and the characters remain nameless but we are seeing Bluebeard and the Bride. Our guide is Gideon Payten-Griffiths, a troubadour of sorts who provides music to guide emotions, to preface events and to warn of danger. Continue reading Bluebeard; or, the Marriage Mistakes of a Nameless Bride @ Bondi Pav

THE INCREDIBLE HERE AND NOW : FELICITY CASTAGNA’S NOVEL COMES TO THE STAGE

Perhaps those of us who crave intimacy in our theatre going prefer a small story… a family, a young man adrift. Those of us who choose challenge and ideas beyond our smallness might want the immersion of symbols and history… place and a codified seeking of understandings.

THE INCREDIBLE HERE AND NOW has just completed a successful season for the National Theatre of Parramatta at Riverside Theatre. It was the perfect blend of human story and world view. Warm and funny and human and thought-provoking.

We meet Michael before the show starts as he sits and writes on his laptop. This year 10 student is the chronicler of his family. He is our guide and speaks directly to the audience to explain, point stuff out and give his adolescent view on close to home events. He scribbles his life on a small flip page notepad.

He’s in the shadow of his older brother Dominic who is adored and indulged by his mother. His black sheep Auntie Leena also adores and indulges ‘The Dom’ but her compassion for Michael is equally limitless. It’s a bit hard to see where Michael fits into the existence around him until we meet his grandfather. Pops isn’t doing too well at the end of a life lived in one place but in him we see the man that the boy might become after the catastrophic central event of the text. There is big picture storyteller and keeper of worlds to be nurtured in Michael. Continue reading THE INCREDIBLE HERE AND NOW : FELICITY CASTAGNA’S NOVEL COMES TO THE STAGE

AMERICAN BEAUTY SHOP : A CHAT WITH DIRECTOR ANNA MCGRATH

“The play puts five women on stage and what is fascinating to me is that these characters cover three generations”, says Anna McGrath. McGrath takes a break from the rehearsal room to talk to the Guide about directing AMERICAN BEAUTY SHOP, a play by three-time Kilroy Honourable Mention playwright, Dana Lynn Formby.

Aged 81-17, the women populate a beauty shop which has moved to Sue’s basement. The credit squeeze and the arrival of a supermarket giant have forced the ‘Sugar Shack’ out of its long-time Main Street premises in the dusty, western town of Cortez, Colorado. Sue has big dreams and aspirations for the basement. And for her daughter, Judy who might just have a shot at getting out.

McGrath sees the play as giving differing perspectives of the American Dream. “Each of the characters has their own point of view on what that dream might be and that’s relatable to audiences everywhere. There’s an interesting dichotomy in the play. One of the characters is all about striving and escaping the hardship of how she has experienced childhood and that is contrasted with another character who is very much proud of where she comes from and doesn’t understand what she sees as disregarding your heritage.” Continue reading AMERICAN BEAUTY SHOP : A CHAT WITH DIRECTOR ANNA MCGRATH

BONDI FEAST : THE ETERNITY OF THE WORLD (PARTS MISSING)

 

Nope.

No way.

Didn’t understand it.

Didn’t get it.

Can’t review it.

Instead.

In the true spirit of deconstructed post-modernist anarchic performance I saw this …

Venue problems … the bane of the touring show. Suggestion: instead of telling people to move away from the speakers just turn the f’ing thing down. Didn’t hear most of it.

Saw it all though. Traverse seating!

Props and costume changes and scripts read from loose papers and set pieces … so a plot, through line, a sequence, a vague structure must exist. Continue reading BONDI FEAST : THE ETERNITY OF THE WORLD (PARTS MISSING)

THE BONDI FEAST : SOME EARLY HIGHLIGHTS

It’s certainly my idea of a cheap theatre menu. Tickets are $10-$20 and one can choose from delights sweet, spicy or salty.

First on my plate at BONDI FEAST?

STORY CLUB SOLO: ZOE NORTON LODGE, a storyteller who knows how to pull you straight from a wintery beach into the warmth of a loving family. Put your hand up who here is not my mother? Why are you here? She asks of the large audience show of hands … It’s really cold. More disturbing perhaps is the number of people who yell and raise arms to the question, Who here is my mother? Feels like a family.

And what a family! Not quite what we think a good Greek girl who grew up in leafy Annandale might be standing on stage talking about. Aberrant grandparents who hate each other, dodgy neighbours with whom to pull cones and a surprisingly coherent 2 and a half year old hell bent on ruling the pre-school. Continue reading THE BONDI FEAST : SOME EARLY HIGHLIGHTS

BEFORE LYSISTRATA : A THOUGHT PROVOKING PRODUCTION BY MONTAGUE BASEMENT

 

Production photography by Zaina Ahmed.

There are two ‘good wives’ standing centre stage and back to back as the show opens. Each is speaking in support of their husband … good men who are sending their countries to war for the best of reasons if we believe the wives. These are the first ladies of agoge and of discourse. Lampito speaks for Archidamus of Sparta. The virtues of Pericles of the city state of Athens are extoled by Lysistrata. BEFORE LYSISTRATA is an intelligent, driven and timely treatise on what happens when women step from the shade thrown by great men.

Aristophanes’ was living through the Peloponnesian War when his comic play LYSISTRATA (about 411 BCE) took revolutionary, yet disguised, gender relations to the masses. His titular heroine is responsible for creating a no sex strike by the women of the warring nations. A ploy to force the warriors to peace. This Montague Basement production is an original story which looks at how Lysistrata might have been brought to the point of such a politically volatile solution to a very long war. Continue reading BEFORE LYSISTRATA : A THOUGHT PROVOKING PRODUCTION BY MONTAGUE BASEMENT

MAURITIUS @ THE NEW THEATRE

There is a neglected and dusty Philatelist’s display cabinet on stage for MAURITIUS at the New Theatre. A shrewd observer, while peering in, may find a hidden treasure. Theatre going is a bit like that too and a keen, educated audience member will always find something to watch and be engaged in. For me, the story, Theresa Rebeck’s 2007 script, was the key to my interest in Sure Foot Productions’ show.

Jackie( Kitty Hopwood) is obviously uncomfortable as she gingerly enters Philip’s seedy stamp shop. She is easily dismissed by this stamp expert (Andy Simpson) who won’t even look at the album she clutches to her chest. Lurking around is Dennis (Peter-William Jamieson) who sympathetically thumbs through her book. Something might have caught his eye but it turns out that Jackie is in an inheritance tussle with her sister Mary (Emma Louise) and may not own the object of desire. The little piece of paper also attracts local thug and wiseguy Sterling (Brett Heath) who has a long history with Philip and philately.

There are a few too many frequent repetitions and riffs on a theme in the script, but there is also an implication that tension and simmer could build well to the violence of the final scene. Rebeck’s script also has a strong mystery feel with room for comic moments. However, despite their hard work this cast struggled to bring the play to life.

Static, stilted and bland, the direction (Richard Cornally) sees very little movement and a great deal of shouting across the wide stage. He has allowed his characters to stand flatfooted with their arms tight across their chest or stuffed into pockets, constrained and forced . Voices are strident or huffy.

Nor are the cast supported by the lighting design which has hot spots and dips all over. The set does the job to show the two spaces but had a nasty wobble on opening night.

But there are things to see… moments when the play does lift. The cat and mouse about the money is well played. Dennis manages to be ingratiating and untrustworthy without being smarmy. Mary shows distinct signs of having been in therapy. There is something emotional happening between Jackie and Dennis. So … a show for a seeker of hidden enjoyments.

And I was carried along the story, even if the ending had a predictability that made it unsurprising.

MAURITIUS continues at the New Theatre, Newtown until 29th July.

 

ART BITES WINNERS ANNOUNCED

The August 6th deadline approaches for entry into LOVE BITES, a Screen Australia and ABC TV Arts competition for LGBTQI filmmakers. A curated series of 10 x 5 minute shorts to be premiered on the ABC Arts channel on iview during Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras in March 2018 the initiative was born of ART BITES, a similar completion.

The winners of ART BITES, now in its second year, have just been announced. These four teams will receive direct investment of $60,000 from the ABC and Screen Australia to make a 6 x 5 minute documentary web series to premiere on the ABC Arts channel on iview in 2018. Continue reading ART BITES WINNERS ANNOUNCED

‘LITTLE BORDERS’ AND BIG IDEAS @ THE OLD 505

Like giants astride the world the audience gingerly crosses the stage to their seats past a circle of little houses.  

Beautifully rendered, these tiny white boxes of ticky tacky are artfully arranged and lit from inside.  Yet the circle seems to have a gap.  After sitting, it is obvious to the viewer that the object of desire is on the other side of the stage, on a plinth, alone and dark and waiting approval for placement.  It will complete the circle and another of the suburban LITTLE BORDERS will be fully ringed.

Elle and Steve are upwardly mobile and uptight.  They are being interviewed for admission to a gated community.  From the first winning smile, this couple are on a mission to get away from the otherness which is invading their current situation.  Neighbours with other families and dogs praying and singing and working on their cars in different languages, at different times and with … too much difference … are all around this harassed couple.    Continue reading ‘LITTLE BORDERS’ AND BIG IDEAS @ THE OLD 505

LOVE BITES : A DOCUMENTARY FILMMAKING LGBTQI INITIATIVE

Featured photo- Lexi Laphor in ‘The Glass Bedroom’, an Arts Bite Project.

Ready for Mardi Gras 2018? It will be the 40th anniversary and the creative juices of Australian LGBTQI documentary filmmakers must be bubbling like champagne as Screen Australia and ABC TV Arts announce LOVE BITES.

In recognition of the milestone, Screen Australia and ABC TV Arts have teamed up to provide an national platform for Australian LGBTQI filmmakers … a curated series of 10 x 5 minute shorts to be premiered on the ABC Arts channel on iview during Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras in March 2018. Under the banner LOVE BITES applications are now being received and will close Sunday August 6th.

The initiative is backed by funding and practical support. ABC TV and Screen Australia will commit a total of $100,000 to this initiative, offering 10 filmmakers $10,000 each to make the short film for delivery in January 2018. Each team will be supported by a Screen Australia Investment Manager and an ABC Digital Arts Commissioning Editor. Continue reading LOVE BITES : A DOCUMENTARY FILMMAKING LGBTQI INITIATIVE

LGBTIQ : OUTSTANDING SHORT STORY COMPETITION

Featured photo credit Viv McGregor.  Outstanding Committee left to right; Sophie Robinson, Alex Greenwich, Gail Hewison, Robert Tate and Teresa Savage.

It’s official! IT’S COMPLICATED is the theme for this year’s OUTSTANDING short story competition.

The OutStanding Short Story Competition is Australia’s premier creative writing event for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex and Queer community of Australia and New Zealand and this year’s competition was launched at a low key event in the heart of Oxford Street.

Alex Greenwich, Independent Member for Sydney and long standing supporter, made the announcement last night. With the bit of a tussle he had with a tightly sealed envelope adding to the suspense, eager writers gathered in the intimate feathered and pink chandeliered bar waiting to see where their imagination would take them. Continue reading LGBTIQ : OUTSTANDING SHORT STORY COMPETITION

DIARY OF A VOLUNTEER – SYDNEY WRITER’S FESTIVAL 2017

Despite being surrounded by the buzz of the Volunteer Green Room on this final day of the 2017 Sydney Writers Festival, I am a little contemplative. Saying goodbye to people I have only known for a week is harder than I expected. Realistically, the more I consider it, nothing about volunteering for the SWF has been as I expected.

When I was working in the crowded Club Stage yesterday I was struck by a comment from Steve Amsterdam about a reader’s response to some of the events of his novel THE EASY WAY OUT. “You are on a ride and you want to see a lot of things on a ride.” And a ride of discovery it has been for my first experience as a vollie for the Festival. The volunteer experience is so well organized for this event. 250 people seamlessly fit together and there is time for contemplation and discovery. I have learned so much about myself. Continue reading DIARY OF A VOLUNTEER – SYDNEY WRITER’S FESTIVAL 2017

HILLS MUSICAL THEATRE COMPANY PUT ON A CRACKER PRODUCTION OF ‘BUGSY MALONE’

There’s a “stage full of stiffs” in the Hills…

In the first few minutes of BUGSY MALONE vast numbers of bad guys are done in by vicious cream pie attacks and random bystanders are felled by crazy string machine guns. Little Chicago circa 1920s is littered with speakeasy staff and speak quickly mob bosses. By the time we get to Fat Sam’s Grand Slam and the body count is piling up, we are so glad that there are over 50 young people in the cast … we just don’t want the fun to end through lack of upright citizens.

Because, from the top of the show, Hills Musical Theatre Company’s BUGSY MALONE, performed exclusively by kids (from 10-16 years) is joyous, thrilling, incomparable community theatre. It’s a treat for all ages and a testament to what young people can do if we prepare them, support them and let ’em loose!

There’s a mob war happening, you see. Fat Sam is being out-armed by Dandy Dan who has managed to find a supplier for a secret weapon. Splurge guns! No longer are the streets slick with the failed hurlings of mano-on-mano flans, this new invention targets victims directly where it hurts. Fat Sam needs to get those guns and he has the green stuff to hire the best driver in the business, our narrator and all round good guy, Bugsy Malone.

In 1974, to keep his four kids entertained on long car trips English Filmmaker Alan Parker (who would direct a huge variety of films from FAME to MIDNIGHT EXPRESS) made up a story about a Chicago gangster from snippets of memory of films and books he had encountered. His eldest son, Alex, insisted that the story had to be about kids. When Parker decided to make a film of his amusing tale he enlisted Paul Williams to write the music and went on a talent search for young people. Jodie Foster and Scott Baio were just two names in the film and when it became a musical in 1983, Micky Dolenz from The Monkeys directed a young Catherine Zeta-Jones to wide acclaim.

Now for a new list of names. Any one of these kids could be the next generation of Australian musical theatre stars. They are remarkably talented and focused in a family friendly show with Hills MTC’s traditionally high production values.

Let’s have a quick chat about that first. Peek at the early promo images for the show and you will see kids in school musical costumes. Dangling sleeves, Dad’s cut down suit. Go and see the show now and you will see superbly envisioned costumes (Rebecca Demary- co-ordinator).

Every child’s costume fits them, so do their hats and shoes and ties and furs and fans and pom pom fringes. Each change, and there are many, gives the young artist a character to bring on with them. The showgirls look glorious in their beaded and sequined and fringed gold flapper dresses and then they come out in the second act in equally lush silver costumes. Just brilliant! Continue reading HILLS MUSICAL THEATRE COMPANY PUT ON A CRACKER PRODUCTION OF ‘BUGSY MALONE’

JETPACK’S ‘ART HEIST’ : AND NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT

Jetpack Theatre’s ART HEIST is inspired storytelling. Yet there is no story and no telling. You and your companions are the story, the triumph, the saga! Whatever exposition you choose to tell. The 3 performers are just there, part of the tale as you write the script. And these are very nuanced actors with improvisation instincts that must be tested over their 3 shows a night. Great scene partners too because this is bespoke, immersive theatre of the highest calibre.

But, not quite knowing what I was getting into I gathered an odd assortment of four players. We were young (our Yr 11 Workplacement student, Lauren) and old (that would be me). A married couple (Bec and Ben) who know each other well, naturally. I don’t know Ben well except for a dance with him at the wedding and Lauren didn’t know anyone except me. We were a logical yet creative collective. An artist, a banker, a technician and an actor. Continue reading JETPACK’S ‘ART HEIST’ : AND NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT

Diary of a Volunteer: Sydney Writers Festival 2017

 

SWF Survey Questions

This week, in an organisation I work with, I participated in a study about volunteer retention. Today I had a practical lesson in how. Via the Sydney Writers’ Festival.

Survey taker Induction. How hard can it be? I might just miss this one! It will be fine on the day! It’s all good! Just asking questions, right? This might have been my thinking when my roster first came out but my Festival volunteer experience so far leads me to believe that if they run a course in something, go to it. And I was right.

We were a pretty representative group and all the worries when I am approached to do surveys were mentioned in today’s briefing: Is my data available to marketers; if I give you my email to enter the competition for a $200 Glebebooks voucher, is it linked to my data; you just want me to say good stuff about the Festival don’t you; will you be sending me emails asking for donations? Answer to all of the above. Nope. Continue reading Diary of a Volunteer: Sydney Writers Festival 2017